I’m not British, but I was raised by a woman who just so happens to be from across the pond. I spent most of my childhood trying to work on my faux accent, while sipping on excellent, imported tea from the UK.
As far as I can remember, whenever I’m upset, tired, happy, cold, confused, excited, or any other kind of state of mind you can think of… I always have a cup of tea.
Failed that midterm? Time for tea. Just got engaged?! Time for tea. Woke up with a tummy ache? TEA!
TEA CURES ALL.
I remember the night I met my stepmom. She wasn’t my stepmom at that moment, but she was a stranger. She had a funny accent. She was dating my dad. MY DAD. No one was allowed to date my dad. My parents had been divorced for .5 seconds. I had a home with my mom. I had a home with my dad. There was no room for anyone else. I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl. The night I met this foreigner was a night like many other nights. My Aunt Berta ( My Berta Boo, and now my kids GGB), my Grandpa and my GG were all sitting around after a long day. My dad wanted to introduce this strange, new person to us all together. Her name was Clare. She was from England. My dad was head over heels. I was not. I was not prepared to share my father with anyone else. It was he and I against the world, or at least that’s what my memories are.
I can’t remember what we talked about that night. I can’t remember when he and Clare left, but I do remember what happened immediately after. My Berta Boo poured me a cup of tea. I was seven. She filled it with milk and enough sugar to make my teeth fall out, but it tasted like comfort. It tasted like everything was going to be fine. Even as an adult, when I spend time with my Berta Boo, there’s always a cup of tea involved.
There’s much to be said about the comfort of a good cuppa.
I spent countless nights at my Grandpa and GG’s house after that night. I loved being there. After my Grandpa would go to bed, my GG and I would drink tea while watching reruns of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda on TV Land. Sometimes, we’d drink peach champagne… but that’s another story for another day.
Some kids have a blanket or a soft companion that calms them. When I was a kid, I had tea. Even now, as an adult, I have tea.
As my ice cold heart melted, (with the help of tea, I’m quite sure of it…), a good cuppa became something that my stepmom and I bonded over. Her family in England would send over the best that Tetley had to offer, and we would start every Sunday morning with a family breakfast and tea. Tea became the glue that bound Clare and I together. I can’t remember where we were, or why it was said, but I remember Clare saying to me, ” I’ll be super, you be glue. We’ll stick together and get through this.”
*Nanny & Maevie*
I should write an advertisement for Tetley… ” Tetley tea, bringing together families all over the world.”
Another fond memory I have of tea is connected to another one of my parents, my stepdad. His name is Dave and I spent most of my teenage years making his life, as well as my other parents life, a living hell. I yelled. I screamed. I ran away. I threw house parties. I dated bad boys. I drank his vodka and tried to fill it back up with water, because I figured he wouldn’t notice.
My stepdad and mom are a bit like gypsies. They move a lot. They thrive on change and the challenge of turning a house into a home. It used to bug the shit out of me, but now I think I kind of get it. I’m thirty-one and I’m still searching for a place that I can call home.
One of these homes that Dave and my mom decided to take on, was a bed and breakfast. I was almost fourteen and I was excited for the adventure of living in an extremely old house with secret attics, weird hallways, and a dark basement full of ghosts (again, another story for another time, but we had ghosts… STOP ROLLING YOUR EYES. WE HAD GHOSTS, OK!??!). My stepdad loved to cook, so it wasn’t a huge step for him to take on the role of Chef at this historic B&B in the middle of Connecticut. My sister and I moved to the third floor of the house, our own private suite. On the second floor of the house there was a little pantry for guests. There was a mini fridge with soda and water. There was a microwave for popcorn, where almost EVERY SINGLE GUEST almost burnt down the house. Apparently, making microwavable popcorn is as challenging as trying to figure out rocket science. There was also a water cooler thing that would make cold or hot water. My stepdad stocked the pantry with various teas for guests if they wanted a cup or two of tea. English breakfast, Earl Grey, Camomile, Jasmine, and green tea were available twenty-four hours a day, alongside sugar and cream. I spent a significant amount of time screaming at my stepdad, which led to a significant amount of time being grounded. I would hide in my room, watch MTV, and plot my revenge. Sometimes, while plotting, I would sneak down the stairs from the third floor and walk up to the guests pantry area. I would make myself a cup of English breakfast and would take it back to my room. I’d sip on it as I watched ” Making the Video” and ” Behind the Music”. I don’t think he ever realized, even to this day, that having that tea so close was a lifeline for me. A good cup of tea was my anti-anxiety medication. A good cup of tea had the capability to turn a bad day around. He restocked the tea all the time, and I have no idea if he even realized it was me, drinking it all. Over a decade later, when I visit my parents in New York, he somehow always has my favorite ready to be steeped and poured.
*Grampie & Maevie*
Once again, TEA. THE ULTIMATE HEALER OF ALL WOUNDS OLD AND NEW. (I should make a billboard.)
My children drink tea. Can you believe it? I let a two year old and a four year old drink tea. Sometimes, the tea has caffeine in it. SCANDAL! INSANITY! TERRIBLE PARENTING!
…but you know what? It has that same calming affect on them too.
A few weeks ago, my oldest woke up with a tummy ache and growing pains. I carried her down to the living room, sat her on the couch, and the first thing I asked her was, ” Want a cup of tea? It’ll help.” Her reply was, ” Yes.” She felt better half an hour later.
We have tea parties almost everyday. Sometimes we have tea parties with lemonade, but for the most part, we have tea parties with tea. We laugh. We talk. We pretend we’re eating fancy British tea sandwiches and cookies. We create memories that I will cherish forever.
Tea. It’s just some leaves placed in a bag that you dip in hot water, right?
It’s more than that to me. Tea has brought me together with two individuals that I am proud to call my parents, even though I already had a mom and a dad. Tea isn’t going to solve world hunger or impeach Donald Trump (damnit, I wish it could.), but it may comfort you in the moments where you just need to stop. Stop and breathe. Stop and breathe and fill your belly with warmth.